91.7 Grand Rapids | 90.5 Bemidji | 89.9 Brainerd
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Amoke Kubat: Arts Experiences & Cultural Change


I have to thank Mrs. Strickland, a fifth grade teacher in south central Los Angeles...I was a child that was motherless. I was moved around a lot. We didn't have foster care but I actually kind of cycled between several families - some biological, some not.  And, I stuttered, and I was always a new student, always you know, very very shy. And she caught me writing and I used to just write stories that were basically things of whimsical stories about talking animals or something I wanted to say some to somebody and I couldn't get it out...

She decided to have me write, continue to write stories, but also write about things that I couldn't say. And she realized when I read I didn't stutter.

Another teacher put me in chorus and realized that was a way for me to express myself. And I always drew, I was always drawing, I was always painting. Yeah. So I was always doing art in some way to have some kind of way of communicating in the world and saying things that I  didn't, either couldn't say or didn't have the language for and had to form that language, had to form those worlds where I could come in and have a place to to belong and place to connect to other people. So I've always used art.  Art was always very important to me... 

...even in special education classes which I taught... I always had some component of art because I realized that people learn differently, express differently. And it gave people more equity in doing so.

- Amoke Kubat

Amoke Kubat uses writing and arts experiences to speak truth to power and draw connections between people in this world rife with inequalities and inequities.  Nearly ten years ago, she began developing the Yo Mama's House Co-ooperative which is a support experience for mothers from diverse populations that provides opportunity for connections, breaks down barriers and builds community with creativity as the conduit for positive change. 

Yo Mama's philosophy is... practice to empower mothers by disrupting the devaluation of women's invisible labor and increasing the social and political recognition of art of mother... I believe motherhood is an art-making practice. I believe the art of motherhood should be elevated.  -Amoke Kabut

Her play Angry Black Woman and Well- Intentioned White Girl is a conversational experience that addresses the miseducation between people of different races and backgrounds.  

We were all mis educated because the education system is really set up to to only give X amount of information to the masses...We are all taught lies about each other. I mean I've been taught lies about you know Native American people. I'd never seen a Native American person to my knowledge until I moved in Minnesota and they're not all one tribe and they all don't live in teepees and they all don't scalp people... but that's what I was taught.

I was not taught anything about most Asian people. We had Chinese people in Chinatown and Los Angeles and we had an area in Pasadena where where we had Japanese communities, but it wasn't until I was probably late 20s before I actually ever knew anyone that was Chinese. And she actually taught my youngest daughter Chinese. She would babysit for me when I took classes and in the process of us being friends and she watching my daughter for me while I took classes, my child started speaking Chinese, which I didn't know, you know. So we don't get educated.

A lot of suburban schools who think they have no problems think that because they have no people or a small amount of people of color. They are being miseducated because they're not given the histories and the contributions of other people that don't look like them. So we're all miseducated. Male,men are mis-educated about women. Women are mis-educated about men. Ashuman beings we've all been traumatized. We've all had intergenerational trauma. We've all been disenfranchised somewhere...what I do know is what isn't transformed, what trauma isn't addressed gets transmitted. And that  of miseducation as well. - Amoke Kubat

Amoke Kubat will be presenting at the Rural Arts and Culture Summit Friday in Grand Rapids this Friday afternoon at 3:45pm.